They Paved The Way For Us

This is a poem dedicated to all the Caribbean’s who paved the way for future generations like me. Being of Jamaican heritage my Grandparents like most others came to England to build a new life. I’m forever thankful to each and every one of them.

They volunteered in WW1 and WW2
Fighting for Britain still under Colonial rule
Volunteering to serve the ‘Motherland’
After the war was won some of them stayed
In Britain and some went back to the Caribbean

But the country needed rebuilding
After the war so this Mother
Beckoned her children to come back
From the land of Wood and Water
They made an 5,000 mile journey from Jamaica
Still under Colonial rule

In 1948 the SS Empire Windrush docked at the Tilbury gates
An alien land which they thought they knew
They learnt so much about Britain in school
But little did they know
That what they were taught was untrue

Streets dem paved with gold
That’s what they were taught in Jamaica
That’s what they were taught back home
But when dem reach its a different story
This motherland was not a glory

No warm embrace from this Mother to her children
But dem here now so wha dem ago do?
Better go look job ah factory
If dem will even accept you

What a wikid country though eeeee
Same one invite you
Same one who turn him back
With him Rivers of Blood speech
But Jamaicans are born resilient
Enoch Powell nuh ready fi dat

Refused housing so dem start a pardner
Enabling them to buy their first house
The jubilation they must have felt

The front room took on a new dimension
Paraffin heater Radiogram Jim reeves
In their front room they took pride

But for all their hard work
And sacrifice they still weren’t
Accepted no matter how hard dem try

Then dem bring in SUS laws
The right to stop and search
Tensions rising

The second generation said
Enough is enough
Discriminated against and
Tired of not feeling accepted
So riots erupt

Of course the media uses
This to their advantage
I’m third generation British born
Never even step foot in Jamaica
But I know one day I’ll reach for sure

This is just a little poem to
Remember those that paved the way
For themselves and for us
They encountered many barriers
But in Britain they made a life
67 later their presence is still alive

I will always remember and
I would urge you to remember too
Always spare a thought for the West Indians
That paved the way for me and for you
If they did it we can
Society hasn’t changed that much
Things may be a little more undercover
But the struggle is the same

Strive for better time to stop
Playing the blame game
Let’s build on the foundations they built
Its not easy I know
But with strength and determination
Our community will further prosper for sure

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